Staff Report

At times it was jovial. At others emotional. In Orangefield Thursday night Coach Bill Tennison was describes as legendary and credited with founding the Bobcat basketball tradition. The retired longtime coach passed away in September after a courageous battle with cancer.

Tennison was honored in a service held at Bobcat Gym where the annual three day basketball tournament has begun. During the ceremony the event was renamed to the now official Bill Tennison Memorial Basketball Tournament.

Tennison started coaching at Orangefield in 1976 and continued through 1999. He mainly coached girl’s basketball but also football and track.

“He was always so proud of everything he became involved in,” said former Lady Bobcat basketball star Barbara Hickey who played for the beloved coach. “He was proud of us, proud of the school, proud of his church, whatever it was he was always so proud.”

Hickey played basketball at Orangefield under Tennison 1984-88.

She went on to play basketball at Lamar University where she was inducted in the Cardinal Hall of Honor in 2007. She attributes her work ethic and success to Coach Tennison. She remarked that on the night of the event she looked out into the audience and Tennison was there.

“I knew everything was going to be okay,” she said, “My coach was there.”

Tennison’s wife Darlene along with their children and grandchildren attend the dedication. OFISD Superintendent Phillip Welch officiated and recounted his years at the school with Tennison.

The Bill Tennison Memorial Basketball Tournament continues through Saturday, Dec. 11.